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Mexican Grill Franchise Chronic Tacos Has “Nothing To Hide”

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tacos california

tacos californiaThis Mexican franchise is promoting a transparent menu and a commitment to quality. With 35 locations across the country and anticipating 14 more openings in the first quarter of 2017 in California, Alabama, Colorado, Canada, North Carolina, Florida, and Washington, Chronic Tacos is taking over with their fast casual franchise. The Mohammed brothers, Michael, Dave, Dan and Joey, lead the franchise towards growth across North America. Chronic Tacos started a campaign called “Nothing to Hide” to highlight traceability, all-natural proteins, and eco-friendly products in all their locations. You can find customizable burritos, tacos, tostada bowls, and much more with the following quality commitments:   

·      All natural proteins with no artificial ingredients, hormones.
·      Non-GMO tortilla options
·      Eco-friendly paper products that are compostable and biodegradable
·      Full traceability in the supply chain for all produce

Speaking to Michael Mohammed, we were able to get an in-depth look into their “Taco Life” including company culture and The Annual Taco Eating Contest.

 

What is your favorite thing to order at Chronic Tacos?

I almost always order a Carne Asada Bowl-rito with added shrimp: half cabbage, half lettuce, Spanish rice, Pinto beans, with guac and Roja hot sauce on the side.

What differentiates Chronic Tacos from competitors?

chronic tacos california
What makes Chronic Tacos unique is how we’re celebrating the individuality of our guests through our completely customizable menu. All of our ingredients are laid out in front of the guests, allowing them freedom and creativity with their meals.

While we grow as a brand, we continue to remain true to our roots and our third-generation recipes. Our celebration of authenticity is seen through our high-quality ingredients. Our Pico de Gallo, guacamole, and hot sauces are made from scratch, and you can really taste the difference. Our dedication to the quality of our food separates us from other Fast Casual chains.

We remain unparalleled in that we’re not just a Fast Casual chain, we’re a lifestyle brand. From the custom artwork on our walls, the music playing in our restaurants, and our involvement with action sports– the Taco Life embodies authenticity, activity, and individuality.

Describe the company culture.

Our culture encompasses open mindedness without the fear of change. Our everyday environment tends to be pretty easy going; we believe in working hard and having fun. Humor is a big part of who we are, as we try not to take ourselves too seriously, but despite our laid-back environment, we are very results driven.

What are your backgrounds?

I come from a very entrepreneurial family, and I have a background in finance and sales. I was a financial analyst at Boeing, then worked for the family business in sales. After working for the family business, my brothers and I partnered in some real estate developments and private investing, which eventually lead us to Chronic Tacos.

What inspires you to continue to grow the Chronic Tacos franchise?

We love what we do. I love working with my family to build something that we believe in, it’s very fulfilling. We’re driven by what we believe Chronic Tacos can be, we believe in this brand’s potential. Seeing people embrace the uniqueness and individuality of what we call the “Taco Life” inspires us.

What are some of your favorite events that you’ve held?

The Annual Taco Eating contests are always a lot of fun. We partner with Gringo Bandito Hot Sauce and bring in professional eaters, like the eating champion Takeru Kobayashi. It’s a great opportunity to have fun and interact with our customers and fans.

We also have a good time with our Grand Opening parties, there’s live music, prize giveaways, and amateur taco eating contests. We cater Angels Baseball events and Live Nation– those are great, too.

How did you decide on your branding?

When we bought the company, we loved the uniqueness of the brand, but it seemed disjointed. We decided to focus on what we found important: the authenticity of our food and culture. Our branding and art needed to reflect that. We use Day of the Dead artwork to tie into our authentic recipes, and our music shows our Southern California roots.

Who are some high profile people you’ve worked with?

Every year, we work with Ryan Sheckler and the Sheckler Foundation for the Skate For A Cause event. This event keeps us involved with action sports and is a great opportunity for us to give back to the community. Jason ‘Wee Man’ Acuña is a long-time business partner of ours who we have a great relationship with. He owns a Chronic Tacos in Long Beach. We also partner with Dexter Holland of The Offspring. He owns Gringo Bandito Hot Sauce and we partner with them for our Annual Taco Eating contest.

Why did you go into the restaurant industry?

My brothers and I saw an opportunity with this brand, we saw potential in it. We were confident that we could utilize our skill sets in a way that would enhance the brand.

Where do you see the company in the near future?

We will continue to grow nationally and open new stores. As we continue to expand, we won’t lose sight of where we started. We want to be one of the most respected brands in the industry, with a customer base who appreciates the experience we provide. It’s important to us to be a franchise that franchisees want to partner with.

 

Jie writes about influencers and startups in various industries. She is a designer turned techie, and when she is not writing, you can find her in her workshop working on her next big project.

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Lifestyle

Tech Traveler Must Haves

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Constant travel makes packing difficult, but these products can make your on-the-go lifestyle much more efficient. You know you’re a tech traveler when your dongles are spilling out of your suitcase. Sometimes it may even be difficult to find a place to plug in these dongles. We compiled a list of products that ensures that your tech traveler lifestyle is up to par as well as enhances your experience, wherever you may be.

Memobottle

Memobottle is a water bottle designed to fit perfectly between your books or laying flat against your laptop. This rectangular, flat bottle design is sleek and is sure to spark some conversation. Slide your bottle into your briefcase or laptop bag without having your bag become bulky, which is a lifesaver when you’re a fellow tech traveler. Memobottle is a sustainable alternative to disposable plastic water bottles. It is stylish and durable, making it an essential for everyday use.

 

Nomand USB charging hub

Because of our need to be connected, we may need to charge a bunch of different devices at the same time. The Nomad USB Charging Hub is sleek in design and fits perfectly into your environment. The charging hub is perfect for every tech traveler. You can charge up to five devices in one place, relieving you of the stress of searching for multiple outlets. The flat surface allows you to rest your phone or iPad on top. The Charging Hub also has an ambient light sensor that dims the LED indicator in the dark, allowing you to sleep peacefully.

 

Raden Suitcase

What makes the Raden suitcase unique is the technology they integrated into the suitcase. Think about some of the basic fears we now have when flying: losing our suitcase, having to pay extra fees, or running out of batteries on our phone with no outlet available nearby. The Raden suitcase solves these three concerns with their app. We may be able to fit everything we need into a conventional suitcase but usually forget about the weight. Well, the Raden suitcase is its own scale. After connecting the suitcase to the app, lift the handle of the suitcase to find out the weight and avoid overweight fees. With bluetooth technology, the app will notify you when your suitcase is nearby. No more fighting with other travelers for space circling the carousel watching as each bag falls down from the entrance. Stand back and let your suitcase tell you when it is coming.

Running out of batteries has become one of our biggest fears – especially if being connected is a part of our job. Well, the Raden suitcase is here to save you if you miss your connection or spent too much time playing games on your phone and now need a charge. There is a built in USB charger port right behind the handlebar that can completely charge up to four phones. Plug the charging wire into the battery without removing it to charge up the suitcase or remove the battery, charge it and used as a portal changer once you have reached your destination. This suitcase is a combination of old and new. The Raden suitcase has four 360 degree wheels. Their use of polycarbonate shell allows the suitcase to be durable against TSA throwing your suitcase around, but at the same time is lightweight and smooth. The zipper is reversed, making it water resistance, great for keeping your belongings secure and dry when traveling to rainy destinations.

 

Lexdray Laptop Case

As we become more dependent on technology, besides a cell phone, a laptop is the next most important device to keep us connected and get our work done – especially those in the technology field. A prime investment for our previous laptops is the Lexdray laptop case. The case is “ultra paddled” with fleece lining for their main compartment as well as the two side compartments for chargers and other essentials.  The water repellent zippers are great for running from house to car, car to building, building to restaurant without worrying about our electrics getting wet.

Zest Tea

To get that boost of energy and focus you are craving for without the crash, try Zest Tea. They currently offer four flavors from something simple like earl gray black tea to something bold like pomegranate mojito green tea. Each flavor of Zest Tea is highly fragrant, and drinking it leaves you feeling instantly refreshed. This is especially important for the tech traveler who is awake at all hours of the day, going from place to place.

Once you hit a certain age, highly caffeinated beverages are your best friends when we need a bit of extra energy. It becomes a necessity. You get the energy boost you are looking for but it comes with a consequence. You become jittery, especially when you are lacking the drink, and you crash once the caffeine wears off. Zest Tea gives you the energy you need without the uncomfortable side effects.

 

Happiness Planner

Technology has consumed our lives for better and for worst. Before smart phones and social media became such an essential part of our lives. Going back to the old school way of pen and paper allows us to disconnect from the world and have a moment to ourselves: right here, right now. The Happiness Planner is laid out in a way to help you take a step back from technology and focus on simpler things in life that makes us happy. 

Each morning, start off by thinking about what excited and inspires you. A positive mindset will set your day in a good direction. As you are writing, more ideas will come to you and before you know it, you are have the right attitude to conquer any difficult task that may come your way. At the end of the day, reflect on all the good things that happened that day. You will realize that this world isn’t as bad as the news makes it seem.

 

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Business

Moment Lens : The Perfect Accessory For the Casual Photographer In All Of Us

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Moment phone lens

Moment is aware of mobile photography’s significance in today’s world and has created what I think are some of the best mobile lens attachments on the market. The newest iterations of the Moment lens and case, dubbed the Moment 2.0 or V2 is what I’ve tested vigorously, almost cruelly (my phone died about 8 times during a city wide photo run), but with a great, guiltless pleasure. We live in a time where mobile photography has become an integral part of our daily lives. Personally, I can’t remember a day where I don’t stop to take a photo, which leads me to say that life is, well ironically, full of rare, snappable moments. Though professional cameras still have a dominating spot in the expanding world of photography, mobile cameras are rapidly improving. We carry phones everywhere we go, its versatility is unparalleled, and the fact that we can whip it out to take a picture or record with unprecedented speed makes me feel that mobile cameras might just be more important. The phone is the instrument of choice for the casual photographer in all of us.

Moment has done a fantastic job with these lenses. The size and quality makes it a perfect accessory for the traveler, but also for the everyday person stumbling onto or looking for any photo opportunity. Moment now has a battery case as well, also equipped with its new mounting system, because phones do deplete when you’re on a photo run. They also offer external shutter buttons, travel cases, and other accessories all on their website. As of this “moment” (get it), I’ve yet to see any other mobile lenses on the market that’s been made with such attention to detail, and really I have to say again, the craftsmanship on each Moment lens is masterful. If you’re looking to spice up your Instagram page, add to your repertoire, or get your feet wet in the glorious art of photography, these lenses are beautiful, valuable options.

We’ll take a look at all four of their lenses and compare photos I’ve taken using them. Please note, unless stated, all of these photos were taken with an iPhone 7 Plus, and are completely unaltered and unfiltered in any way. Results will vary depending on your mobile device.

First Impressions

During the unboxing, I picked up one of the microfiber pouches at random, and when I dropped the Moment lens onto my hand, I was immediately impressed. There is a solidness to them. The glass lens themselves were huge and attractive. The weight felt really nice and professional. Taking a few shots with the lens mounted were fine. The weight wasn’t noticeable at all. But, I felt they had to be removed once you put your phone away, lest you wanted a big ole glass eye protruding from your pocket. The rubber lens caps are sturdy and easy to keep clean. Cheap rubber attracts dust and hair, but these were stress free. Also, the pouches that the lenses come in doubles as a microfiber wipe for the lenses themselves. I thought that was really cool. It’s all in the details!

The Case and Mounting Surface

The new lenses have a completely redesigned mounting interface. Whereas the previous Moment lenses attached via a mounting clip, these new lenses twist 180 degrees onto Moment’s lens interface found only on their new (and gorgeous) photo cases. This allows a few things to happen. For one, there is zero chance of user error. There is no need to attach a mounting plate, like with the Olloclip or Insignia clip on lenses, nor is there the adjustment issue you find often with said clip ons. Personally, I find the clip on lenses to be a bit frustrating in getting them to sit right and still, and because they are universal, there is a noticeable lack in photo quality. But Moment’s mounting system is super thin, yet rigid, so there’s no lens movement or shifting, resulting in no distortion, vignetting or corner cropping. It is an airtight system, and also allows for easy lens swaps to fit the nature of your photo.

18mm Wide Lens

This is marketed as their bestseller. It allows the camera a wider angle without distorting the shapes. I found this to be the easiest and most versatile Moment lens to use, great for landscapes, narrow spaces, foodie photos, and everything in between. The wide angle gives it just enough of an edge to capture everything I wanted in a photo while retaining the same vision I had for the photo. This lens also underwent the most redesign for the 2.0 lineup, sporting new aspherical glass with the intent being to eliminate distortion and clipped corners. I realized very early on that this was going to be my daily driver, my bread and butter, my go-to for photos. I love that the Moment lens is so subtle, but it adds depth and power, traits of a well taken photo. A wise friend said in the simplest way, “I like the wide lens. It takes the same picture, but wide.” See for yourself!

Moment lens

Taken with the Moment 18mm Wide Lens of the historic Delancey St. in Society Hill, Philadelphia, PA.

Delancey St. in Philadelphia taken from an iPhone 7 Plus without a lens.

No lens shot of a shelf of pickled tomatoes at The Twisted Tail, Philadelphia, PA

Moment lens

Taken with the Wide Lens 18mm. Notice that it is at the same position and distance, but there is an extra jar. I thought it was a subtle, but demonstrative nod to what the lens does.

 

Philadelphia

No lens shot of The Twisted Tail, Philadelphia, PA

Moment wide lens shot

Taken from the same position with the Moment Wide Lens 18mm

25mm Macro Lens

Moment’s Macro lens 25mm definitely has the most limitations, and is the hardest to use, but it is my personal favorite. This Moment lens lets you take photos of small objects with amazing clarity and with an almost artistic result. But, because the lens has to be so close to the subject that it’s touching, its usability is mostly limited to stationary objects under good lighting. But the results are fantastic. As pictured, the details captured, unseen by the naked eye, adds great texture to these photos. It isn’t a lens I’d use every day, but it’s one that’s just quirky enough that I always have fun when I do.

Moment lens

Get up close and personal with the Macro 25mm lens! This is a super close up of a morning glory flower, which was about the size of a nickel.

60mm Tele Photo Lens

This lens is used mainly for portrait photos. It provides a natural 2x zoom without any loss of picture quality, which is important for phones because they operate on digital zooms (as opposed to the more powerful optical zooms found on many professional cameras). Similar to the portrait mode function on the iPhone 7 Plus, the Telephoto is used for focusing onto a subject while leaving the background soft. If you have an iPhone 7 Plus, you could choose to forego the Telephoto Lens, but what the lens does is it allows you to further zoom in, while portrait mode does not, and you can record videos. If those are important to you, then this is a good lens to have! If you don’t own a phone with a portrait mode, then the Tele Photo lens is a great lens to have!

moment lens

The Twisted Tail, Philadelphia, PA taken with a 60mm Moment Lens

No lens shot of the entrance to the Centre Square in City Hall, Philadelphia, PA

Same shot with the Moment Telephoto 2x Lens

170 degree Superfish Lens

The Superfish lens is perfect for capturing a lot of detail in small spaces due to its unique distortion quality, granting it a 170 degree field of vision. What I found to be most impressive about this particular fisheye lens is that it completely eliminates vignetting, which occurred on virtually every other fisheye lens I’ve tried to date. Also, because of the new mounting system, photo quality remains constant throughout the entire photo. On other lenses, there would be blurring as it gets closer to the edges. The Superfish lens really stands out in these aspects, so snap one on and take those big group selfies and sunsets! Photos taken by Vu Do.

national wildlife refuge

Marshes at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge without the Superfish lens.

Moment Superfish lens shot

Marshes at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge taken with the Superfish lens

 

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Memobottle Raises Over $30,000 On Kickstarter In Under 10 Hours

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Memobottle

Jesse Leeworthy and Jonathan Byrt, the entrepreneurs behind Memobottle, designed a reusable plastic water bottle with a mission to decrease the use of disposable plastic water bottles and create a more sustainable society. Growing up in Melbourne, Australia they often saw heaps of disposable water bottles littering the beach. They decided to create a beautiful and reusable alternative to these disposable bottles. Their creations feature stylish design and durable construction to make them a solid accessory for everyday use.

The Memobottle features a flat, flask-like design that fits in pockets, bags, and purses. The bottles are made of durable Tritan plastic, are BPA free, and dishwasher friendly. They are suitable for hot or cold liquids, and are freezer safe. Coming in three different sizes, Memobottle is a convenient and sustainable alternative to plastic water bottles. Their Kickstarter campaign’s success enabled them to sell the bottles in two new sizes. The slim Memobottle is a tall, elegant addition to a bag or purse. It holds 15 fluid ounces of water. The A7 Memobottle is the most compact. It holds 6 ounces of water and is perfect for kids and people on the go. Their existing A5 bottle holds 25 fl oz and retails for $36.

Memobottle also has fun accessories like desk stands, lids, wrist straps and cases. Desk stands come in two dimensions and are copper plated. Lids come in matte black, copper, and stainless steel. Wrist straps and cases are made of leather.

Their Kickstarter campaign is donating 1% of the money to a charity called water.org that seeks to increase access to clean drinking water in parts of the developing world. 1 in 9 people do not  have access to clean drinking water, and in developing countries without access to safe water and sanitation, women and girls spend an average of 6 hours a day collecting water. They are unable to attend school and stay trapped in a cycle of poverty. Water.org provides small loans to these families to enable them to access water easily and break the cycle of poverty.

The mission, philosophy, and high quality products have made the Memobottle Kickstarter a resounding success with it raising over $45,000 of its initial $30,000 goal in just a few hours.

 

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